Let’s Collaborate!

While it’s incredibly satisfying and fulfilling to see our aritsan-made designs come full-cycle from seed to fruit, we’ve also realized that we LOVE collaborating with other creative minds out there.  We love working together to get our creative juicing flowing, and creating something new.

So if you’re interested in collaborating with Kakaw Designs, just shoot us an email to hello@kakawdesigns.com and let us know!  Let’s work together!

What we’ve done so far:

  • Our Perrito Collection began as a collaboration for a fundraiser for Fundación Waybi / Bocalán Guatemala, organizations that work with animal-assisted therapy here in Guatemala.  We’re huge fans of the work that they do, and it was an honor to put together a fundraising event in 2015, and from there make the Perrito Collection available on our online store with 20% of the proceeds going to this great cause._MG_9028
  • Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week 2015 in Guatemala City was an incredible experience, working with and learning from Liza Carrillo from Vessel.  Together, we prepared some amazing looks for this runway fashion show.  This was a truly WOW experience, seeing our artisan-made products on the runway worn by models, accessorizing stunning looks by Vessel.


runway clutch

  • We’re so excited to be working with Cardamom Collective, starting with this collaboration for one-of-a-kind pendants.  Using leather and textile scraps from our production of boots and bags, we crafted the pendants using sterling silver.  And then off to Kelly they went, where they received their finishing touches incorporating vintage coins, Afghan lapis, and other lovely accents, giving the pendants a truly global feel.  They are available for sale on the Cardamom Collective website.

pendant lapis


We’re excited to see what else we can achieve with others.  Want to be part of it?  Just let us know!

My intro to the World of Fashion: Mercedes-Benz Fashion


What an experience to be part of Guatemala’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Show on November 19th, 2015!  I am still recovering from the thrill of seeing our handmade boots and bags on the runway as part of the beautiful looks by Vessel.


With Liza Carrillo, designer for Vessel, and fellow Vessel lovers

I would like to make yet another confession (this blog is full of confessions these days)… I never expected to be part of a runway show.  I don’t even really know how I got to this point where I am being introduced to strangers as “Mari, the Designer for Kakaw Designs.”  When did I become a designer, and part of this Fashion scene?

I started Kakaw Designs because I love the handwoven textiles in Guatemala, and saw the need for truly high-quality products using these gorgeous textiles.  And hey, I’ve always loved boots… so why not boots?  And then we started making bags and accessories, too, always with the mission to work with talented weavers and leathersmiths.  But this amateur thought that we would need to go against “Fast Fashion”, the kind that we see on the runway, that it was Us vs. Them.

Turns out, I was wrong.  There is a place on the runway for quality handmade products.  Vessel is a great example of a brand mixing beautiful contemporary designs with traditional and handmade accents, perhaps most notable in their use of embroidery, like in this gorgeous jacket that I wore to the event, combining Vessel and Kakaw for the night:

Mari outfit

Handmade dress (designed by yours truly), with the awesome red Vessel jacket and a unique Kakaw clutch.

My friends know that I was worried for the show.  I was worried about using traditional designs, about incorporating these gorgeous handmade pieces into the runway show, I thought for some reason Kakaw products would not fit in.  Worse yet, I was worried about being disrespectful to the handmade and traditional processes, these designs that are so beautiful and so labor-intensive to produce, somehow decreasing its importance by being part of such a big show as this one by Mercedes-Benz.  Thank goodness I was dead wrong!

The looks are so beautiful.  Liza Carrillo, the designer (now she really is a designer) for Vesesl, put everything together so elegantly and tastefully.  She did an incredible job.

THIS LOOK: the opening look for Vessel, and one of my favorites for sure.



And here’s my video, I apologize in advance because I am not a videographer:


There are so many labels these days within the fashion industry: Fast Fashion, Slow Fashion, Ethical Fashion, Sustainable Fashion, Eco Fashion…. but they do all fall under one category: Fashion.  There are so many problems in the big mainstream fashion scene, but at this runway level, it is a fantasy world, a theatrical show.  These looks are presented as works of art, that may or may not be for sale, but first and foremost they are works of art to be appreciated as such.  And in this sense, I have gained so much respect for this world of Fashion at the runway level.

En fin, I loved being part of this runway experience.  I would do it again in a heartbeat, knowing that there is a way to present handmade products respectfully and beautifully in a place I thought was reserved for mainstream fashion (whatever that is).  There is a big movement taking place, not only in Guatemala but all over the world, of appreciating artisans and valuing handmade processes.  Guatemala stands out because of its indigenous peoples and arts, as in the traditional textiles of the Maya.  But I rest assured that Kakaw is only a small part of this big change, that there are many other like-minded designers and brands that are working towards values such as respect, sustainability, and the continuation of traditional art forms.  This is a great feeling, full of hope, and I look forward to seeing where our journey takes us.







Find us in Antigua and San Francisco!

One of the most common (and favorite!) question we get is:

Where can I find your products?

Well, thank you for asking!  If you’re in Guatemala, we have two boutiques well-stocked in Antigua with our products:

ShopVessel Boutique: right on the arch street, right by the arch.  Part of the plaza next to Los Tres Tiempos.  Originally from Mexico, this Antigua branch  boutique features many local brands, from beautiful one-of-a-kind dresses to cute handmade bracelets.  And we love how our boots and bags shine in that mix!



Casa de Artes: at Fourth Avenue South #11.  Just ring the bell and someone from the shop will let you in.  This is more of a textile specialty store, where many of their collector items are museum-quality, preserved for decades, handled only with white gloves on and put away wrapped in acid-free paper.  Makes sense why the security, and ringing the bell to be let in.  Truly a store full of treasures, and it is an honor to have our boots and bags in such an environment!

Display Casa de Artes

And if you’re not in Guatemala:

kakawdesigns.comyou can find everything on our website!  Make sure to check our Etsy store for products already in San Francisco, for quick shipping.

Wallflower, San Francisco: This adorable boutique in the Mission mixes gorgeous vintage items with independent designer products.  Super fun store with so much to check out and love!  Visit them at 1176 Valencia Street.

backpack on wall

macaw clutches

luggage tags

We’re ready to expand wholesale to other beautiful stores in the US!  Please let us know if you know of any stores around you that you think would be a good fit with Kakaw Designs.  Personal recommendations are always appreciated!

Kakaw Designs in Guatemala

When I started this baby of mine (Kakaw Designs) a little over a year ago, I had only considered the markets outside of Guatemala.  I thought we would work with local partners and artisans in Guatemala, and then ship the handmade boots and bags to abroad.  Through this model, we’ve done well – we’ve had orders from the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, Germany, Spain, and the UK.

What I didn’t expect was so much interest locally here in Guatemala.  Turns out, people here (both Guatemalan and foreign) are in search of well-made luxury products, always with the local Mayan accents, and solid partnerships with the artisans.  We’re bombarded here in Antigua with handicrafts everywhere, and always handmade, but the attention to detail is definitely not the same.  What we have at Kakaw is really luxury, and that’s hard to find.

With that said, I was honored when Vessel Boutique asked to have Kakaw products at their new store in Antigua.  Vessel is a well-established boutique in Mexico City, who themselves have a complete line of handmade clothes and accessories made in Guatemala.  Their clothes are gorgeous – my favorite, this wool coat!


It’s a great fit with Kakaw Designs, and we’re excited to be part of their new store in Antigua.  They’ve experienced the same thing as us; people are asking them to sell locally.  So, why not?

Next time you’re in Antigua, find us at Vessel Boutique, located right on the Arch Street.  Come check out what we’ve got going.

Kakaw at Vessel

Kakaw at Vessel

Take a look at this post by Vessel for more awesome photos of the shop!